Pediatric Physical Therapy Equipment: An Overview

October 26, 2023

pediatric physical therapyPediatric physical therapy requires specialized equipment that is designed to help children develop in key areas such as strength, motor skills, and balance. In this article, we will explore the importance of pediatric physical therapy as well as some common types of equipment used to support children in their journey towards improved physical health. 

The Importance of Pediatric Physical Therapy

Pediatric physical therapists work closely with children and their families to develop personalized care plans that align with each child's unique needs and goals. Overall, the objective of pediatric physical therapy is to empower children to overcome their physical challenges and make progress towards a healthy and active childhood.  

This type of therapy is essential for children dealing with developmental delays, congenital conditions, injuries, neurological disorders, sensory processing disorders, surgical recovery, or other health conditions that effect their physical ability.  

  • Developmental Delays: Many children experience delays in achieving physical milestones, such as crawling, walking, or running. Pediatric physical therapists work with these children to improve their motor skills and reach these milestones at the appropriate age. 
  • Congenital Conditions: Children born with congenital conditions, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or Down syndrome, often require physical therapy to address mobility challenges, improve muscle strength, and enhance overall functional abilities. 
  • Acute Injuries: Pediatric physical therapy is essential for children recovering from orthopedic injuries, including fractures or sports-related injuries. In cases of injuries such as burns or accidents, pediatric physical therapy can help minimize the impact of these injuries on a child's long-term mobility and function. 
  • Neurological Disorders: Children with neurological conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, or traumatic brain injuries, can benefit from pediatric physical therapy to maintain or improve their motor function and quality of life. 
  • Sensory Processing Disorders: Children with sensory processing disorders often face difficulties with balance, coordination, and body awareness. Pediatric physical therapy can help them improve sensory integration and motor planning skills. 
  • Post-Surgical Rehabilitation: Pediatric physical therapy plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation of children who have undergone a surgical procedure. The therapy aids in the recovery process and helps children regain physical function. 
  • Chronic Conditions: Children with chronic health conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, juvenile arthritis, and cancer, can benefit from pediatric physical therapy to maintain physical function, improve endurance, and manage pain. 

Types of Equipment Used in Pediatric Physical Therapy

Pediatric physical therapy equipment is designed to help children build strength, coordination, and balance. Some common pieces of equipment that may be used in pediatric physical therapy include balance equipment, parallel bars, therapy putty and hand exercisers, resistance bands, exercise equipment, and seating and positioners.  

Balance Equipment: Balance equipment, such as balls or discs, are versatile tools used in pediatric physical therapy to enhance a child's balance, coordination, and core strength. Children typically sit, lie on, or interact with the balance equipment while performing various exercises.  

Pediatric therapists often use games and activities that encourage the child to maintain balance and engage their core muscles. These exercises help children improve postural control, proprioception, and gross motor skills.  

Parallel Bars: Pediatric parallel bars are handrails set up parallel to each other at a child's height, providing support and stability for children who require assistance with balance and walking. Children hold onto the bars to practice walking with the guidance and support of a therapist.  

Parallel bars are essential in helping children improve their gait patterns, weight-bearing capabilities, and overall mobility. These tools are commonly used for children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other mobility-affecting conditions.  

Therapy Putty and Hand Exercisers: Therapy putty and hand exercisers are soft, moldable tools used to improve hand and finger strength and dexterity in pediatric physical therapy. Children squeeze, stretch, and manipulate the putty or hand exercisers, which can come in various resistance levels, to enhance fine motor skills.  

These tools are valuable for children with conditions like hand deformities, fine motor delays, or those recovering from hand injuries. By targeting hand and finger strength and coordination, therapy putty and hand exercisers help children gain better control over their hands, which is essential for daily activities such as writing, drawing, and self-care. 

Resistance Bands: Resistance bands are elastic bands used to provide resistance during exercises that target specific muscle groups. In pediatric physical therapy, resistance bands are employed to increase muscle strength and improve joint stability. Children often perform a range of exercises under the guidance of their therapist while using resistance bands.  

These exercises can help children with conditions like muscular weakness, joint instability, or neuromuscular disorders. The adjustable resistance levels make resistance bands adaptable to a child's specific needs and abilities. 

Exercise Equipment: Various types of exercise equipment, such as stationary bikes, treadmills, and elliptical machines, are used in pediatric physical therapy to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and mobility. The therapist tailors exercise programs to the child's age, condition, and physical capabilities.  

For instance, pediatric treadmills are beneficial for children with mobility challenges, providing a controlled environment for walking and improving endurance. Exercise equipment is especially relevant for children with orthopedic conditions, neurological disorders, or those recovering from injuries. 

Seating and PositionersSeating and positioners are designed to provide support, stability, and comfort during therapy sessions. Swing seating can help children develop balance, coordination, and sensory integration while providing a fun and engaging experience.  

Seating and positioners offer postural support and alignment, making it easier for children to maintain the correct position during therapy exercises. These tools are particularly useful for children with conditions like cerebral palsy, autism, or sensory processing disorders, as they assist in creating a safe and supportive environment for therapy sessions. 

Pediatric physical therapy aims to help children—from infants to adolescents—achieve their full physical potential, including improving their strength, balance, coordination, and motor skills.  When used as part of a physical therapy plan, pediatric physical therapy equipment can help children achieve their therapeutic goals while improving physical function and enhancing their overall quality of life.  


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